Infill housing and protecting Toronto’s tree canopy

Toronto City Hall
100 Queen Street West
Toronto, ON M5H 2N2
Attention: Nancy Martins

RE: PH8.6 Growing Space for Trees: Protecting and Enhancing the Tree Canopy While Supporting Infill Housing

We strongly support the identification of potential strategies to protect and enhance the City’s tree canopy and growing space for trees, while also supporting infill housing growth in Toronto’s low-rise neighbourhoods.

We agree with the Urban Forestry report that:” trees are a critically important asset to address the climate and biodiversity crisis and concurrently contribute to provide the development of attractive and desirable neighbourhoods. New infill housing will help address Toronto’s current housing challenges but has the potential to negatively impact the tree canopy and reduce the amount of suitable growing space for trees if proactive solutions are not implemented…The City must continue to be proactive and innovative in supporting and expanding its tree canopy and growing space while supporting opportunities for infill residential development, as both are critical in responding to the current climate emergency”.

However, we note the multiple previous reports to, and motions adopted by City Council, as documented by the Long Branch Neighbourhood Association (LBNA) in its PHC submission on the same item that leads to their recommendation that the effort needs to be hastened and expedited.

We therefore support the LBNA recommendations that the Planning and Housing Committee direct staff to:

  1. Accelerate the timing for reporting back on recommendations for protecting existing trees and expanding the tree canopy from Q4 2024 to Q2 2024.
  2. Clarify the requirements for a complete Committee of Adjustment application to include:
    1. A completed tree declaration form
    2. Consideration of penalties for incomplete or inaccurate tree declaration forms.
    3. Up to date (specify within the past 12 months) colour photos including colour photos of individual trees in full leaf.
    4. Site plans to show the location of all by-law protected trees and tree protection zones with species and diameter of each by-law protected tree at breast height indicated for trees on the property and within 6m of the site.
    5. Site plans to include and identify boundary trees (trees that are shared between adjacent property owners and require the permission of both to injure or remove)
    6. Site plans to include the proposed locations of underground services and overhead wires that could conflict with tree growth and planting space.
  3. Monitoring for tree impacts resulting from laneway suites, garden suites, multiplex dwellings and other residential building types to be expanded to include:
    1. Loss of smaller size private trees (i.e., smaller in diameter than 30cm as these trees represent the majority of the trees in Toronto (88%) and make up a significant part of the City’s current and future urban forest.
    2. Loss of soft landscaping and plantable space and soil volume
    3. Loss of trees on adjacent properties
    4. Loss of major limbs and roots that result in a slow death to the tree.
  4. Specify that consultations with relevant stakeholders include resident associations throughout the city.

Yours truly,

Geoff Kettel
Co-Chair, FoNTRA

Cathie Macdonald
Co-Chair, FoNTRA

CC: Gregg Lintern, Chief Planner, Executive Director, City Planning Division,
Howie Dayton, Acting General Manager, Parks, Forestry and Recreation
Kyle Knoeck, Director, Zoning and Secretary-Treasurer, Committee of Adjustment
Jane Welsh, Project Manager, Strategic Initiatives, Policy & Analysis, City Planning Division
Caroline Samuel, Manager, Zoning Section, City Planning Division . Kim Statham, Director, Urban Forestry, Parks, Forestry and Recreation, Nicholas Trevisan, Manager, Tree Protection Strategic Projects, Urban Forestry, Parks, Forestry and Recreation

Photo: Sean Marshall, via CC BY-NC 2.0 DEED